The Importance of Jockey Silks in Horse Racing

If you’ve ever been to see a horse race and seen about five bay horses galloping around the track with almost identical markings, you may wonder how it is that the race commentators are able to identify the horses so easily. Likely it didn’t take you long to figure out that the horseracing silks went a long way to simplifying the equation.

There is such an amazing abundance and variety of jockey silks currently in use today that few people realize how carefully orchestrated these simple garments truly are. How are jockey silks organized and what do they mean? Are there any rules regarding the use of jockey silks or can anyone simply throw together a few shapes, lines and colors at will? There are surprisingly interesting answers to these questions and anyone considering getting a horse of their own will need to know at least something about jockey silks before letting their horse take to the track.

Racing colors are generally designed by the owner of a racehorse and usually all horses belonging to a particular owner will be raced in his colors. Before the owner is able to have these silks made up, he first needs to check that his proposed design doesn’t already exist in the Weatherbys database, as each racing silk must be unique. A combination of colors, squares, lines, circles, and stars are generally used to create the unique patterning of the silks and while some silks may be similar, they may not be exactly the same. The owner will usually create detail for the jockey’s shirt and helmet cover, but may also choose to include the jockey’s jodhpurs and the horse’s saddle blanket in his design. These extra items are not usually registered on the database and the focus is kept simply on the jockey’s shirt (front, back and sleeves) and his helmet cover. The horse’s racing gear, such as its saddle, bridle and martingale, may also reflect the colors that have been chosen by its owner.

This means that while watching a race, not only can race commentators and spectators find it easier to keep track of a specific horse and rider, but they will also be able to clearly see who owns the horse. If the horse is been raced in preparation for sale, this information can further help buyers to get an idea of what grade stock the seller generally produces. Clearly jockey silks play an important role in the horse racing industry.